Hot, warm or cold?

Choosing the right temperature for laundry.

It may seem quicker and easier to use the same wash settings for everything but getting the right temperature is more important than you may think. The heat of the water impacts the condition of your clothes, the effectiveness of removing bacteria, odours and stains and running costs.

The team at WASHPOINT have put together some top tips for getting the best results from your wash by choosing the right temperature.

Don’t forget to…

Read fabric care labels carefully
Select the best water temperature and type of washing cycle based on the individual labels. This is especially important for new items and to protect delicate fabrics.

Sort laundry before washing
Sort dirty laundry by colour and fabric type. Washing similar types together helps you remove soil, prevent colour transfer and control lint more effectively. Read our blog to find out how you can sort laundry in 4 simple steps [link to sorting blog].

Choose the right detergent
Laundry detergents use enzymes to lift and remove dirt from fabrics. Did you know that selecting detergents that are tougher on stains, eg, a biological detergent, could allow you to use a lower temperature? Rinse cycles can also be used to wash away extra detergent and dirt.

Pre-treat stains
Pre-treating the garment with stain remover, or giving it a cold water soak before washing, will give better wash results at all water temperatures. Make sure to check the tags or do a spot test in a hidden area before applying any stain treatment product.

When to use cold water for laundry – 30°c

Be sure to follow the garment instructions carefully to include all items that should be washed in cold water. A cold water setting will cause the least damage to fabrics, so if a label is missing, or unclear, it is best to use cold water, to avoid shrinking or ruining the garment.

Ideal for: Delicate fabrics including wool and silk, as well as bright-coloured clothes (to avoid colour transfer or fading). Colder wash temperatures will also help to maintain elasticity in sportswear.

Benefits: Washing at 30°C uses 38% less energy than washing at 40°C, so it’s much more environmentally friendly.

Disadvantages: If your cold water items are heavily soiled or dirty, you need to be especially diligent about pre-treating for stains. They may require a longer wash time or a pre-soak before washing to fully remove stains.

When to use warm water for laundry – 40°c

Most people wash the majority of their laundry with warm water, as it allows good cleaning action without as much fading, wrinkling or shrinking as hot water.

Ideal for: Lightly soiled clothes and washable man-made fabrics like nylon, polyester, spandex and rayon blends.

Benefits: Warm water helps to dissolve powdered detergents and offers more energy savings than hot water.

Disadvantages: Warm water can fade some colours and is unable to remove heavy soils and stains, or fully sanitise fabrics.

When to use hot water for laundry – 60°c

There are still times when hot water is needed to sanitise against bacteria and remove dirt and stains.

Ideal for: Soiled white cotton garments, underwear, kitchen linens, sweaty or grease-stained linens including bed linen (sheets, pillowcases, duvet covers) and bath towels.

Benefits: Hot water sanitises linens infected with bacteria and is ideal for soil and oily stain removal. It is also better at dissolving powdered detergents than cooler temperatures.

Disadvantages: Not all fabrics wash well in hot water; it can cause them to fade, wrinkle or shrink. Delicate fabrics, in particular, don’t respond well to high temperatures and lower temperatures should be used.

Picture of temperature gauge on a yellow background